Rebreather: Is it a "Death Trap" or the best thing since Nitrox? - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 06-18-2013, 11:19 AM   #1
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Default Rebreather: Is it a "Death Trap" or the best thing since Nitrox?

Well I have been diving a rebreather for about 4 years now, and I'm still alive. (yay!) So I thought I would pass along my thoughts about rebreathers for any members who may be interested.

My background...

Before buying a rebreather:
  • Open water and nitrox certified
  • About 200 dives
  • Average dive depth: 100'
  • Deepest Dive: 145'
  • B.S. in Physics
  • Mechanically inclined and a bit of a "mad scientist"
Now:
  • Rebreathers: (3) Inspiration Evolutions setup for technical (deep) diving
  • Rebreather instructor, rebreather dive master, rescue diver, trimix gas blender, etc.
  • Hypoxic (low O2) Trimix certified
  • 400+ rebreather hours/dives
  • Average dive depth: 150'+
  • Deepest dive: 370'
  • Percentage of dives that I do on a rebreather: 99%
  • And still alive...
Observations...
Pros:
  1. I can dive 3-4 hours, over one or more dives, independent of depth one set of tanks an CO2 scrubber.
  2. They are virtually silent in the water. Since sea life will often approach you, it makes for a completely different dive experience.
  3. Fewer tanks are required for deep diving.
  4. Systems can be setup with multiple backup options should one component fail. In many ways I feel safer diving a rebreather then diving a regular scuba setup.
  5. "Bottom time" is extended on average about 20% over nitrox due to the constant high PPO2 maintained by the rebreather.
Cons:
  1. Rebreather upfront cost, training and maintenance are much more expensive than conventional scuba.
  2. Since there are many parts to be serviced on a regular basis, they are not for the mechanically-challenged, or for folks who like to rinse and go.
  3. Pre-dive setup and checks can take several hours. I generally do most of this the night before.
  4. Post dive cleaning and break down takes about 15 minutes.
  5. The gear is heavy to move when the tanks are mounted. The weight is similar to a scuba setup with the tank attached.
  6. There are limited sources for parts, so availability and prices can be frustrating.
  7. I carry along many more tools and spare parts on the dive boat when diving a rebreather.
  8. I usually sling a 40 cf "bailout" scuba setup when diving. This adds to the complexity, weight, snag points, and cost of the setup.
Other notes:
  1. Buoyancy control is very different since you cannot use your lung capacity to fine tune your buoyancy. This is typically a problem for experienced divers, but one that you can overcome quickly.
  2. Skip-breathing has no benefit on a rebreather, so I had to retrain myself how to breathe. It is amazing to me how much I was skip-breathing unconsciously. No more post-dive headaches!
  3. When I started diving a rebreather, most of my friends at local dive shops and on charter boats thought I would die soon. Many asked about buying life insurance on me. I am sure they said the same when Nitrox was first used locally.
  4. Since high-pressure O2 (3500-4500 psi) is very difficult to find at dive shops, I prefer to fill my own tanks. Helium is also less expensive when I buy it direct from the gas supplier. I can also mix gases exactly the way I want them, and when I want them. I can also get much closer to the target (trimix) gas mix then a dive shop gas guy can.
  5. Not all rebreathers are the same. Mine have all the bells and whistles. Some are rebreathers are bare bones units and have few backup systems, or they are poorly designed. Buyer beware!
Bottom-line:
  • If you dive a lot, a rebreather may be worth the extra cost and effort.
  • If you are considering technical (deep diving) training, then a rebreather setup will cost slightly more and will provided additional benefits over open circuit gear.
  • For the casual diver and divers on a budget, hold off for a while. The cost of rebreathers is coming down and they are being made safer and easier to maintain.
  • I expect dive shops in our area to offer them to rent at some point, as dive shops are doing now in other locations.
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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I have always wanted to try one. I read about a guy named David shaw who dive them and it was very interesting!!!

I want to eventually get into cave cavern and tech diving as well but never seem to have the time or people to go at the same time. I assume that the deeper you go, the more you limit yourself on buddies!
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:28 PM   #3
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Thanks for the report..... I'm not ready to convert to the yellow box of death just yet but I have really thought about it more over the past month's...I'm still gonna keep that insurance policy on you though....lol.... I know they are getting better and probably have an unfair stigma associated with them... I would think that for recreational diving, they are too expensive but are more justifiable if it is in your chosen profession....

Would you mind a "ballpark" $ amount for beginning re-breather diving with all associated costs included..... bet that would scare most of us away... good luck and dive safe....

As a SAR diver, the Dave Shaw story is gut wrenching, but a great read to those who haven't read it....

here is the link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/d...Dave-Shaw.html
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlaineAtk View Post
...I assume that the deeper you go, the more you limit yourself on buddies!
Indeed.

You also lose the benefit of silence when you dive with an open circuit (scuba) buddy. So finding rebreather buddies to do deep diving is a challenge to be sure. I am lucky. My bride is also a dive nut, who dives a rebreather and is trimix certified.

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Old 06-18-2013, 12:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no woryz View Post
...Would you mind a "ballpark" $ amount for beginning re-breather diving with all associated costs included.....
If you live near a shop that offers rebreather rentals, you are looking at $1,000-$1,500 to get your open water certification. Rentals run $100-$500 per day.

If you are going to buy your own rebreather, the cost for new gear and training typically runs from $8,000 - $15,000, depending on the how many bells and whistles you want, and the level of certification you are after.

If you want to fill your own tanks, compressors, O2 booster pumps, fill whips and such add to the cost. Filling your own bottles is not a rebreather thing really, just a personal preference.

There is only one thing better than owning your own rebreather gear...having a buddy that will let you use his! Wish I had one...
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:59 PM   #6
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A re-breather wouldn't seem like something to rent, if your at that level then it would be all ownership I would think.. unless your just travelling across the globe to dive..... I would expect the upfront cost to exceed $12,000-16,000 for all of the proper equipment & then to factor in the maintenance & upkeep that I would expect to be extensive.... Just prices me out of the equation.... hell, I already have over $10,000+ invested in dive gear...lol... I cant afford a higher priced hobby.... I will just live re-breather diving through you on this one.... Thank's for your thoughts, very interesting discussion...
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:37 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info Bryan!
It's only a matter of time...well, it's only a matter of money but, someday I will own one.
I'd love to go cruise around the bridge rubble for a couple hours.
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:05 AM   #8
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Default Closed Circuit Rebreathers

Better than Nitrox...

Just took the CCR plunge a month ago. I now have two Poseidon Mk VI re-breathers. 10 dives on the units so far. One bail out.

One set up for shallow non deco diving..more or less spare parts.
One for deep deco stuff..the primary unit.

I paid 4k for a Mk VII rebreather and a buddy wanted it. He traded me two MKVI's for the VII. The difference being the VII will make 500 foot dives. The VI's 220..+ or -. I took the two VI's as my dives are not over 236 ft max.


Everything said above i concur with. There is somewhat of a learning curve..35 years and 1000's of open circuit dives..had me "unlearning" a few things.

Shark Quest dive shop in Navarre/Gulf Breeze carries Poseidon re-breathers.

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Rebreather: Is it a "Death Trap" or the best thing since Nitrox?-rebreather-jpg   Rebreather: Is it a "Death Trap" or the best thing since Nitrox?-rebreather2-jpg   Rebreather: Is it a "Death Trap" or the best thing since Nitrox?-depth-jpg   Rebreather: Is it a "Death Trap" or the best thing since Nitrox?-dive2-jpg  
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:42 AM   #9
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I know lots of folks who used them in the military. They're still alive.
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